One of the strange things about walking through a hospital regularily is that you feel quite invisible. Which is ironic, because you do have your own number and a reason to be there. In a sense, the whole place exists for you, and your appointment. But that is also true for all the other hundreds of invisible souls that jostle past.

This week I became much less invisible.

On Tuesday I started to drive again. Twice this week I have been to business meetings. I don’t necessarily want to rush back into work, but it seems to make sense because it gives me the strongest sense of normality. And we all want to be normal. But then that’s my normal – to work 😦

That’s it – that’s my news. Now to fill up the time we’ll just have to waffle on about invisibility.

The first thing to cover is that I have bought tickets for my (/our) first live gig since the operation – The Twilight Sad at the Portland Arms on Oct 27th.

The Twilight Sad – That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy

I bought their new CD last week but am still getting familiar with it. This song is from their previous album “Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters“. It’s been asked of the band why their lyrics are so bleak on family relationships (“frozen lives lived in an existential suburban emptiness”) but they deny all possibility of unhappy pasts – “My parents have asked me what the songs are about but I told them not to worry. They don’t reflect badly on them.” I hope his parents are convinced.

Anyway, I’ll be lurking at the back, scowling at anyone who looks like they may bump into me. No mosh pit.

The second thing about invisibility is that I have been impressed by what I have seen of the work of Chinese artist, Liu Bolin, often referred to as the Invisible Man. His exhibition “Camouflage” has a page here with lots of images to show what he does, but here’s an example: invisible-liubolin

What he is doing here is painting himself into the scenery. It isn’t a photo, it’s not photoshopped. He paints a half-representation of himself against a backdrop. He started this when the Chinese government bulldozed the buildings of  an artist village where he used to work, in preparation for the last Olympics. It’s a comment on the fact that we exist and yet don’t exist in the alienation of the modern world. It’s about the disintegration of the individual – we characterize our existence “with gradual and self-incurred disintegration.”

Contrast this with the other flashbulb image from China in the past decade – the young man standing in front of the tank at Tianamen Square. Now, in the paradox of modern China, the image of the man isn’t even solid. It’s daunting to conceive of the Orwellian forces that Bolin and other artists face. As he says:  “One day the government causes a disaster the next day they print a story about how much they are doing to help the people.”

Truly, “they’re standing outside and they’re looking in”.

There’s a scene about invisibility and concealment in crowds in the 1971 movie “Harold and Maude“. It’s about the relationship between a suicidal young man and an anarchistic old woman. There’s a scene where she says she’d like to be a sunflower, if she was to change into a flower, and asks him what flower he would like to be? He points nonchalantly at a daisy “because they’re all alike”. Maude says they are not, but points at a field of daisies and says they allow themselves to be treated “like that”. The scene then shifts to a shot of rows of white crosses in a military cemetery.